Blue Line

Kneehill County hears animal complaints keeping peace officers busy

June 8, 2023  By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

June 8, 2023, Kneehill County, Alta. – Kneehill County council pondered detailed quarterly reports from both its community peace officers (CPO) and RCMP detachments that serve the municipality, and heard that both traffic and animal complaint issues remain prominent. The reports were made at the May 30 regular meeting of council.

Director of Community Services Kevin Gannon presented both the RCMP and CPO quarterly reports, and noted the Olds RCMP detachment commander was planning on attending the council meeting but cancelled due to a problem.

Gannon noted the Olds detachment has been very proud of the work it’s been doing.

Looking at the bylaw end of things, Gannon stated CPOs wrote 65 citations under the Traffic Safety Act (TSA) which included 46 warnings and 19 tickets.

Later in the meeting Coun. Laura Lee Machell-Cunningham asked if both electronic speed signs were back in use after one suffered some damage. Gannon responded he didn’t have that information at hand and would have to get back to the councillor later.

Animal complaint files were a topic of much discussion. The CPO report noted the officers handled 19 animal control files in Kneehill County and 41 animal and general bylaw files in neighbouring municipalities including Acme, Carbon, Linden, Trochu and Three Hills.

Gannon stated the large number of animal complaints is having a noticeable effect on CPO workload.

“They’re taking up a significant amount of time and effort,” said Gannon. “They’re repeat offenders in this area and it’s taking a considerable amount of resources for the team.”

Coun. Carrie Fobes stated she had two questions forwarded to her from a ratepayer: first, how much time do CPOs spend outside of Kneehill County per month and second, how much time do officers spend in court per month?

Gannon stated Kneehill County has had only one CPO on duty with a little bit of other help so the department doesn’t have a breakdown of hours spent in other municipalities, and also didn’t have a breakdown of hours spent in court but noted the department could prepare and forward that information to councillors.

Deputy Reeve Ken King, who was chairing the meeting, noted Kneehill County CPO Brandon Rempel has been working solo for some time but has been doing a great job and is appreciated.

“We know it’s a lot of work when you’re by yourself,” said King to Rempel, who was present at the meeting.

King then asked about animal control agreements with surrounding municipalities and whether Kneehill is recovering its expenses on this work.

Gannon responded Kneehill County has animal control agreements, abides by the contracts and is also reviewing the agreements.

Coun. Debbie Penner stated she was also concerned about ensuring Kneehill County recovers all costs when doing animal control for other municipalities.

Coun. Machell-Cunningham asked how animal control was handled before CPOs were available. Gannon stated it was his understanding that a separate organization existed that handled many animal issues but that group has since folded, resulting in more work for Kneehill County.

Deputy Reeve King brought some levity to the meeting. “I just have this picture in my mind of a dog in handcuffs in the back seat of a patrol vehicle,” said King.

Gannon added animal control complaints, and the costs associated with them, are an issue many municipalities are grappling with.

Councillors unanimously approved the RCMP and CPO reports.

– East Central Alberta Review

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